33 Vintage Mugshots That Bring The Past To Life

Published July 10, 2017
Updated February 21, 2018

These vintage mugshots allow us to see both the horror and humanity in the faces of criminals from the 19th and early 20th centuries.

James Dawson
James Dawson
Indecent Exposure
North Shields Police Station, UK
June 9, 1902
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums/Flickr

Lawrence Armstrong
Lawrence Armstrong
Theft
North Shields Police Station, UK
September 30, 1915
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums/Flickr

Mustapha Irola
Mustapha Irola
False Pretenses
North Shields Police Station, UK
August 19, 1904
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums/Flickr

Stanley William
William Stanley Moore
Dealing opium
Central Police Station, Sydney
May 1, 1925
Sydney Living Museums

Isabella Hindmarch
Isabella Hindmarch
Theft
Newcastle, UK
Circa 1871-1873
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums/Flickr

Charles Ormston
Charles Ormston
Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Circa 1930s
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums/Flickr

Herbert Ellis Mugshot
Herbert Ellis
Central Police Station, Sydney
Circa 1920
Sydney Living Museums

Andrea Laudano
Andrea Laudano
Larceny
North Shields Police Station, UK
July 21, 1904
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums/Flickr

Ellen Kreigher
Ellen ("Nellie") Kreigher
Murder
Central Police Station, Sydney
July 13, 1923
Sydney Living Museums

James Chase
James Chase
Obtaining money by false pretenses
North Shields Police Station, UK
January 22, 1916
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums/Flickr

William Morrissey
William Morrissey
Sleeping Outdoors
North Shields Police Station, UK
July 11, 1904
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums/Flickr

Mugshots
London
Circa 1880
SSPL/Getty Images

Digambar Badge
Digambar Badge
One of the attempters on Gandhi's life, afterwards released for cooperating with the prosecution
India
May 12, 1948
Mondadori Portfolio/Getty Images

Catherine O'neill
Catherine O'Neill
Theft
New York
1906
Library of Congress

Kuki Robber
Cachar, Assam, India
Circa 1870

Under British rule, members of local tribes and ethnic groups deemed "criminal" were required to check in with local police weekly and be processed.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

James Davit
James Davit
Obtaining money by false pretenses
Newcastle, UK
Circa 1871-1873
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums/Flickr

Tom Oday
Tom O'Day, alias Joe Chancellor
Member of the Hole in the Wall gang
Circa 1900
Library of Congress

Lewis Payne
Lewis Powell (aka Payne)
Abraham Lincoln assassination conspirator
Aboard the U.S.S. Saugus April 27, 1865
Bureau of Prisons/Getty Images

Lizzie Cardish
Lizzie Cardish
Arson
Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary
1906
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Nathan Leopold
Nathan Leopold
Murder
Joliet Prison, Illinois
1924
Topical Press Agency Hulton Archive/Getty Images

F Flood Mugshot
Francis Flood
Theft
Central Police Station, Sydney
May 5, 1920
Sydney Living Museums

Charles Jones
Charles S. Jones
Larceny
North Shields Police Station, UK
September 15, 1914
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums/Flickr

A Cooke
Alice Cooke
Bigamy and theft
State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay, New South Wales
1922
Sydney Living Museums

John Gumis
John Gumis
Larceny
North Shields Police Station, UK
October 5, 1903
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums/Flickr

Valerie Lowe
Valerie Lowe
Breaking and entering
Central Police Station, Sydney
February 15, 1922
Sydney Living Museums

Dutch Schultz
Dutch Schultz
Gangster
1931
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Jean Troppmann
Jean Baptiste Troppmann
Murder
Paris
1869
Apic/Getty Images

Bank Robbers Murder
From left: Leonetti, Guiffaut, and Galendemi (first names unspecified)
Bank robbery and murder
Marseilles, France
Circa 1930
FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Italian Criminals Mugshots
Mafia shootout suspects
Regio Calahia, Italy
Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images

James Howe
James E Howe
Theft
North Shields Police Station, UK
September 19, 1906
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums/Flickr

Tellier Criminal
1889Harlingue/Roger Viollet/Getty Images

Jane Forbes
Jane Forbes
Larceny
North Shields Police Station, UK
January 26, 1905
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums/Flickr

Walter Smith
Walter Smith
Breaking and entering
Central Police Station, Sydney
December 24, 1924
Sydney Living Museums

Shortly after the invention of photography, police quickly realized its utility in fighting, or at least dealing with, crime.

Police in Europe and the US began using photography to keep records of criminals starting in the 1840s, only a couple years after the invention of photography itself. By 1888, French policeman Alphonse Bertillon had created the template for the "mugshot," featuring a single photo of the subject straight-on, coupled with a photo of the subject in profile.

Since then, the countless mugshots taken of criminals (and the wrongfully arrested) around the world have given us a photographic record of the kind of history we can't really get anyplace else.

Many of our surviving images of the past are of royalty, nobility, and the wealthy. We learn about kings and dukes, patrons of the arts and wealthy merchants. Far more rarely do we have a chance to truly glimpse into the lives of ordinary people, let alone criminals.

Mugshots are a record of the past that few people see, and their confrontational nature, with the subject staring directly at the camera, forces us to confront their humanity. People in mugshots are divorced from their context, in many ways, and allow us to see them as the people that they are, not figments of a long gone past.

Above, you'll find some of the most striking mugshots that history has to offer.


Next, see some of the best famous mugshots of artists, leaders, and entertainers throughout history.

Gabe Paoletti
Gabe Paoletti is a New York City-based writer and a former Editorial Intern at All That's Interesting. He holds a Bachelor's in English from Fordham University.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.